Saturday, May 26, 2012

Holy Land Pilgrimage

So many Christians spend so much time, money, and energy to visit the "holy land." This pilgrimage is supposed to enhance their "spirituality," to take them "closer to God," to emulate suffering of Jesus, etc.

Christians, what's wrong with you? Do you know many of those holy places are not actually the same historic place that you assume they are? Here are 3 examples:

1) Via Dolorosa/Way of Grief
You don't seriously think that the via dolorosa in Jerusalem is really the path that Jesus took to his crucifixion right? No? You thought Jesus really walk that path?

Small historical lesson: the original Jerusalem was burned, razed to the ground, uprooted from its foundation after a Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire on 70 A.D. In ca. 130 A.D., a new city was built on top of that ruin, the Aelia Capitolina. That's right the TRUE via Dolorosa was destroyed together with the old Jerusalem. The current via Dolorosa is a path from Aelia Capitolina, around 100 years after the crucifixion of the Christ.

So, sorry to bring you the bad news: the via Dolorosa IS NOT the path that Jesus took.

2) Church of Nativity
Seriously? You really thought Jesus would mark the barn where he was born? You thought that he know the exact place where he was born? You thought that somehow his disciple managed to accurately guess where he was born?

3) The site of the Baptism of Jesus
Big news: the Jordan river where John the Baptist performed the baptism of Jesus is already dried years ago. The current Jordan river flows in different place. So, be aware, and never forget that the place that is marketized as the baptism spot is definitely not the same spot where Jesus was baptized.

Of course not every Pilgrimage spot in the holy land is bogus. For example, it is reasonable to assume that the Golgotha hill is really the place of crucifixion of Jesus, because that hill is still there, and there are records from multiple sources about its location. But, that didn't contradict the fact that many "holy places" have no historical reason to be holy. Be aware that some degree of rationalism in religion could help your spirituality too :)

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